Online scam artists target renters - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Online scam artists target renters

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Keith Moran (Left) Keith Moran (Left)
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Hunting for an apartment in Chicago can be a daunting experience. Especially at this time of year, which is a prime time for openings. And for scam artists.

Keith Moran just started a new job at FOX 32 and felt the pressure to find a place fast. So he turned to craigslist, looking for a place to sublet for a month or so, while he looked for something more permanent.

“I found a place I liked, the pictures looked great, the guy had a great story and it ended up being a scam,” Moran said.

The Better Business Bureau says the problem is widespread and anyone using craigslist should be very careful. What's advertised could be completely legitimate, or entirely a fraud.

“They're using the same posting that they might steal from another site, the same address, the same pictures, so you look it up on

Google Earth, it's that house, it looks like that house, it's in the area of that house, and people sometimes do a drive by and it's there,” said Steve Bernas, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Chicago.

Keith Moran showed us emails he got from the would be subletter, complete with pictures and a sublease agreement that contained the name of the actual landlord. That last bit of information saved him from becoming a scam victim.

“It had the name of the management company that was part of the building and somebody signed it with their name there. So I went on line, looked up the management company, called their leasing office and they said that person doesn't exist in their office,” Moran said.

The Better Business Bureau warns a tell-tale sign of a scam is when the person wants money wired to them. The Cook County Sheriff's Department, which has investigated numerous frauds on craigslist, says the criminals are hard to catch. And victims don’t have much of a chance of recouping their money.

“It's very slim and a lot of people unfortunately won't report it, because they get embarrassed that just makes it more difficult and you could have multiple people get scammed by the same individual because they're not reporting it,” said Commander Michael Anton with the Cook County Sheriff's Police.

As for Keith Moran, after nearly being taken, he hired a representative from Apartment People to help him find a legitimate place to rent.

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